User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 155 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 17 out of 155
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  1. JarodC.
    Jun 14, 2006
    6
    Enjoyable...however, dialogue tended to be extremely annoying in parts, not because of the slang etc. but because it just dripped with effort. It seemed like this guy wanted to make his characters sound quirky for the sake of it. Some of it was just laugh-out-loud awful. Other than that, the story seemed to flow well after slowish start.
  2. TomJ.
    Aug 9, 2006
    6
    Felt like it was filmed by a bunch of high schoolers w/ a cam corder. Just couldn't buy into the whole ridiculous plot or the brooding teen angst.
  3. AndyM.
    Jun 9, 2008
    5
    This movie is best described as a bunch of 25 year-olds, acting like 17 year-olds, acting like 35 year-olds. It's ridiculous. This isn't high school, and it never will be. It tries to be original by placing a 50-years-late, washed-up detective genre into a high school setting, and it comes off as plain absurd. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, "It's original, yet This movie is best described as a bunch of 25 year-olds, acting like 17 year-olds, acting like 35 year-olds. It's ridiculous. This isn't high school, and it never will be. It tries to be original by placing a 50-years-late, washed-up detective genre into a high school setting, and it comes off as plain absurd. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, "It's original, yet it's not". No high school is filled with smooth talking, drug-running teenagers, who spit 1940's lingo like it's the normal thing to do. If you like detective stories and you just HAVE to have a new angle, despite the complete lack of believability, then this is for you. The movie isn't a bad one, don't get me wrong. The writing and the confined presentation just prevents it from being the amazing movie it desperately wants to be. And I mean desperately. Expand
  4. N.Lee
    Aug 14, 2006
    5
    Visually, it was fun. I also appreciate the attempt to create a new type of neo-noir. But it dragged in places and I had a hard time feeling much sympathy for the characters. There was also a "surprise" regarding Emily, the murder victim, which I predicted and was disappointed in when it was revealed.
  5. Nov 16, 2012
    5
    High school kids masquerading as characters from an old school hard boiled detective movie. This is an interesting premise, and one that you can tell Johnson probably wanted to make from the moment he decided he wanted to make movies. Unfortunately there is little going on of interest past the niche premise. Some of the acting and writing is pretty decent here, so you will not be bored.High school kids masquerading as characters from an old school hard boiled detective movie. This is an interesting premise, and one that you can tell Johnson probably wanted to make from the moment he decided he wanted to make movies. Unfortunately there is little going on of interest past the niche premise. Some of the acting and writing is pretty decent here, so you will not be bored. However there is nothing in the story or characters that makes you care what happens to them, which gives you no emotional tie to anything that ultimately happens. Overall a disappointing film. Expand
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Reviewed by: Jeremy Mathews
    90
    With brilliant dialogue out of the 1940s and graceful visuals that add depth to the dark comedy, Johnson debuts with a smart, self-assured feature that portrays adolescence like no other film has.
  2. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    70
    Writer-director Rian Johnson gives the usual teen angst an entertaining kick. But the joke wears off, and what's left is as convoluted and monotonous as any conventional hard-boiled mystery.
  3. 75
    "Sensational" is the word for Joseph Gordon-Levitt (equally striking in Mysterious Skin), who stars as Brendan, the teen outsider who becomes a budding Bogart.